Please read the previous chapters of Pari’s school diary before continuing for better understanding.
This Monday was determined to be special and a turning point in our lives, with Pari starting her kindergarten in a new school.
The new school I had picked for Pari, had ticked off most boxes on my mental list of a good school and I believed I was in control for this new journey.
But, no matter how much you prepare yourself, life has a way of surprising you in ways you least expect it to.
The morning dawned with me and Pari waking up at almost the same time. I had briefed her about all she should expect, in the preceding days so she was pretty cool and prepared for everything.
The new school starts an hour earlier than her previous school, but we being a (hyper) punctual family reached the new school reception area almost 30 minutes ahead of time. We had kept a safe margin for the traffic because the school is around 12 km from our home, still, we were among the first to reach there.
Pari was pretty excited. I could read it in the spring in her step and the cheerful smile that was plastered on her face. It helped me immensely in calming down.
At the reception, we happened to meet her school’s Headmistress and Pari wished her “Good morning Ma’am” loud and clear without waiting for anyone (including me) to prompt her to do so.
While the headmistress (whom Pari had met twice earlier & had loved the way she had gifted her a big bar of chocolate on those occasions) looked impressed and went to talk to her for a little longer, in my head I knew, Pari was ready to take on this school in her stride. I had never before seen her so charged up, liked that day.
Unlike most schools I have been to or known, Pari’s school administration had insisted on parents accompanying the kindergarten students, to help them adjust in the new environment and allowing an open yet brief interaction with the class-teacher.
As a parent, I quite liked this approach because I could see a positive impact of this, both on the students as well as their worried parents. This can also be attributed to the fact, that in Pari’s school every class has a maximum of 15 students per section with strong emphasis on individual attention to every child.
Meeting the class teacher went on smooth and I quite liked her. Pari didn’t take long to find a chair in red (her current favourite colour) to seat herself comfortably in the class. I can never forget the calm look on her face with which she happily waved bye to me and her grandfather.
It was then, that the school photographer approached us for a family photo in Pari’s class on her first day in school. I actually loved this idea. In my heart, I always wanted to take a picture of this special moment but didn’t attempt it for the fear of upsetting the school discipline early morning.
All said and done my father and I marched out of the class towards school entrance. One thing I noted then was, I was very calm with a (never-known-before) feeling of peace enveloping me.
However, my father was a little shaken with an unmistakable teary-eyed look. It wasn’t him alone, I had seen many parents with tears in their eyes on our way out.
It was then, something in my head wondered, maybe I was not motherly enough to react emotionally to this important point of my child’s life.
These thoughts plagued my mind all along our way back home but a little voice in my head kept arguing this line of thought, saying ‘being in control of one’s emotions’ isn’t a bad thing.
While we had dropped Pari at school, she was to return back home by the school bus. The number of the bus she was to take had been tagged on her school shirt and I had personally spoken to the bus driver and the helper explaining our bus stop where I’d be coming to pick and drop Pari.
Then followed a hectic day with a lot of work waiting for me to be completed.
Though I was busy all morning, at the back of my mind I was worried about Pari’s bus trip in the afternoon. The prime reason being, Pari has severe motion sickness. This was going to be her first ever bus travel without me.
Besides, the school serves lunch to the students hardly half an hour before they leave for home by bus. Having eaten minutes before a long bus trip can play havoc for someone with motion sickness. Words cannot do justice to my anxiety about it.
Some lessons in life are best learnt, facing life as it comes. Over-thinking doesn’t help a bit. My father and I reached the designated bus-stop well ahead of time. We waited impatiently for the school bus to arrive and when it finally did, the driver informed me that my daughter wasn’t on board.
My jaw dropped to the floor and a huge pang of anxiety churned my stomach. The helper nanny in the bus informed me that Pari was aboard another bus and also told me the location of the bus stop where we can pick her up explaining to me what had led to this.
Needless to say, my father and I darted to the new bus stop, pretty upset by the fact that the school administration hadn’t considered informing us about this change.
There were a couple of grocery shops in the area of the bus stop. On enquiry with the vendors, they told us that the bus had left around 5 minutes back. Here, I’d like to mention that Pari’s school bus follows the rule of not dropping the child at the bus stop in the event of a no-show by the parents to ensure child’s safety. I was well aware of this policy having talked at length with the bus coordinator at the time of admission.
Luckily, a few days before the session started, when I had met the staff and had a word with the bus coordinator, I had taken their phone numbers and saved them on my mobile.
I immediately called the school reception and explained the situation. I was assured about Pari’s safety and was requested to call up the bus driver.
The driver responded and the helper nanny in the bus told me that Pari was on board, panic struck and crying. But, she calmly told us there was no need to worry as they would be taking care of her. I was informed about their current location and we decided upon a meeting point on their way where we could pick Pari.
The situation was very much in control, theoretically.
In the meantime, my mother called up worried asking about what was taking us so long in bringing Pari back. When I told her what happened, she was broken and her voice cracked up. But, we had no time to talk for we needed to dart to the spot where we were meet the school bus.
My father and I reached the spot in next ten minutes. In the peak afternoon rush hour with the sun shining bright overhead, a zillion school buses were in sight, except the one we were waiting for.
I have no idea what had gone into me that day. I was very calm and composed. Though I was worried about the well-being of my child still I could feel no trace of agitation, frustration or anger.
After some time the bus arrived.
I will never forget the sight of that moment. Pari was seated comfortably in the front seat with the helper nanny by her side and my little girl was smiling. She was more than happy to see her grandfather and me. She happily waved goodbye to the driver and the helper after our brief chat.
Pari’s smile convinced me she had been in caring hands. Most amazingly, the child had travelled over 25 km in the bus all by her own, on her first day in a new school and managed to enjoy the ride without any sign of motion sickness.
We soon returned home to find my mother standing on the road waiting for us to bring Pari home safely. She was in a bad shape having cried and been worrying crazy.
Later in the afternoon, all the confusion regarding the bus number and bus stop was cleared by having a word with the school headmistress. Though she apologized profusely, the one thing that had been bugging me all day was why I was so calm and composed all through the chaos.
In retrospect when I see the events of that adventurous first day in school, I think, my determination to stay calm and peaceful guided my will-power to make it happen. I felt as if I have aged ten years in that one day and my child too has grown up to become a confident child I had never known before.
The song on my mind: Samjhaawan Unplugged ~ Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania